Although Kings XI Punjab had shocked Rising Pune Supergiants, it was mentioned in the preview to the match that they would still go in as underdogs when they face a rampant Kolkata Knight Riders at Mohali on Tuesday. And, that is exactly how things turned out to be. Bowling first, Kolkata put up an excellent all-round performance, with their spinners in particular standing out. They kept Kings XI Punjab down to a very good total. And, when it was their turn to bat, their openers again came to the party. Once, they had got off to a confident start, Kolkata were always going to ease home to victory, which they did.
As has been the case with Punjab for most games, their top and middle order let them down again. They were 94 for 5 in the 15th over, and in no position to finish with a challenging total. Manan Vohra and Murali Vijay may have got fifties in the chase against Pune, but they again struggled batting first. There were failures for skipper David Miller and Glenn McGrath yet again. The constant low scores of Miller and Maxwell have been one of the keys to Punjab's struggle. Unless that changes, they will continue to lag behind. Shaun Marsh batted well for his half-century, but considering the lack of support, he couldn't put much pressure on the opposition.
Having been restricted to a low total, the only way Punjab could have made a match out of it, was if their bowlers got wickets upfront. But, that wasn't to be the case as the trio of Sandeep Sharma, Kyle Abbott and Mohit Sharma conceded too many runs without picking up wickets. Like their top order batting, their bowling at the start has also been poor but for the Pune encounter. Axar Patel and Pradeep Sahu did well to pull back things, but all it did was delay another inevitable loss for Punjab.
As for Kolkata, it was clearly the bowlers who won the game for them. All of them chipped in for a good combined effort. At the top, Morne Morkel dismissed Manan Vohra, but it was spinners who did the major damage. Piyush Chawla got rid of the well-set Murali Vijay before Sunil Narine, with his remodelled action, chipped in with the big scalp of Maxwell, and the surprisingly promoted Wriddhiman Saha. Gautam Gambhir utilised the services Yusuf Pathan, who hasn't had much to do in the season so far, and he responded with the big wicket of Miller. In short, everything went according to plan for the men from KKR.
Although chasing a gettable total, Kolkata did well to ensure that they did not get overconfident. Gambhir and Robin Uthappa have carried their fine form into this season as well. If Gambhir was the dominant partner in the previous match, Uthappa took it upon himself to guide the team home this time. As a combination, they are proving to be deadly dangerous for opponents. There was a hint of complacency, when they lost a few of wickets in a heap. In the end though, it must be said that it was another impressive effort by KKR.
--By A Cricket Analyst